The U.N. counterterrorism chief reported a 350% increase in phishing websites in just the first quarter of the year, mostly targeting hospitals and health care systems and obstructing their work responding to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Vladimir Voronkov told the U.N. Security Council that the upsurge in phishing websites was a part of “a significant rise in cybercrime in recent months” revealed by speakers previous month’s first Virtual Counterterrorism Week at the United Nations.
The weeklong gathering was attended delegates from 134 nations, 88 civil society and private sector organizations, 47 international and regional organizations, and 40 United Nations bodies.
He said the U.N. furthermore; the global experts haven’t yet completely comprehended “the impact and consequences of the pandemic on global peace and security, and more specifically on organized crime and terrorism.”
Voronkov says, “We know that terrorists are exploiting the significant disruption and economic hardships caused by COVID-19 to spread fear, hate, and division and radicalize and recruit new followers. The increase in internet usage and cybercrime during the pandemic further compounds the problem.”
Undersecretary-General Voronkov said the discussions demonstrated a mutual understanding and worry that “terrorists are generating funds from illicit trafficking in drugs, goods, natural resources, and antiquities, as well as kidnapping for ransom, extorting and committing other heinous crimes.”
He said U.N. member nations are rightly focused around handling the currently increasing health and human crisis brought about by COVID-19 however he urged them not to overlook the threat of terrorism.
In many parts of the world, Voronkov stated, “terrorists are exploiting local grievances and poor governance to regroup and assert their control.”
Ghada Waly, executive director of the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, told the council meeting on the linkage among counterterrorism and transnational organized crime that the links are “complex and multifaceted,” and “the COVID-19 crisis poses a host of new challenges to national authorities.”
“Organized criminal groups and terrorists may seek to capitalize on and exploit new vulnerabilities,” she said, “and transit patterns are shifting in view of travel restrictions and lockdown measures, adding further challenges for border security.”
Lastly, she added a rather important point which highlights the fact that during these dark times comprehensive and cooperative responses are needed more than ever.
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